UNEP Report Addresses Loss and Damage and the Role of Ecosystem Services
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The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published a report that aims to enhance understanding of climatic stressor effects on ecosystems and possible correlations and implications for societal losses and damages.

The report, titled 'Loss and Damage: The Role of Ecosystem Services,' discusses climate impacts on specific ecosystem services, including on provisioning services, regulating services, supporting services and cultural services.

UNEPMay 2016: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published a report that aims to enhance understanding of climatic stressor effects on ecosystems and possible correlations and implications for societal losses and damages. The report, titled ‘Loss and Damage: The Role of Ecosystem Services,’ discusses climate impacts on specific ecosystem services, including on provisioning services, regulating services, supporting services and cultural services.

To illustrate these impacts, the report highlights five case studies exploring climate change, loss and damage to ecosystems services and human wellbeing, and covering climatic stressors, such as drought, floods, heat waves and cyclones, in Asia (extreme temperatures and flooding in India and Pakistan, and Typhoon Haiyan), Africa (drylands of the Sahel and East Africa), Europe (heatwave) and North America (San Joaquin Valley in the California Drought).

The case studies illustrate that causal links between climate change and a specific event, with loss and damage, can be complicated and, thus, the report cautions against oversimplification, and supports further exploring the role of, inter alia, governance and management of natural resources. The case studies also show that even though some adaptation measures have been implemented, loss and damage still occurred. The report recommends investing in ambitious mitigation action to avoid unmanageable adaptation efforts that would otherwise be required.

The report outlines a range of policy solutions to address climate impacts that are related to: assessing loss and damage to ecosystem services; avoiding and reducing loss and damage; risk reduction; addressing residual losses and damages to ecosystem services; and addressing non-economic loss and damage.

The report identifies areas for future research and evidence gathering, including: increasing understanding of how loss and damage to human wellbeing is mediated through loss and damage to ecosystem services and of the specific policy entry points; documenting and evaluating the effect of efforts to avert loss and damage and identifying how the efficacy of tools and measures can be improved; developing a best practice suite of policies, programmes and tools to help governments and communities identify ways to avert loss and damage; and clarifying the ambiguity between avoidable and unavoidable loss and damage, as well as with the concept of “averting” loss and damage used in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

The report was published in advance of the second session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), being held from 23-27 May 2016. [UNEP Publications Website]


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